First Published: 2012-01-03

 

Offshoot of Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb declares war on France

 

Mauritanian Hamada Ould Mohamed Kheirou, presumed leader of armed Islamist group active in West Africa, threatens France with war.

 

Middle East Online

Six French nationals are held hostage in Sahel

BAMAKO - The Mauritanian Hamada Ould Mohamed Kheirou, presumed leader of an armed Islamist group active in West Africa, has again threatened France with war in a video seen Tuesday by a journalist.

"We again declare war on France, which is hostile to the interests of Islam," Kheirou said in Arabic, wearing dark glasses and with his head wrapped in a turban. "The jihad (holy war) will be exported everywhere it is necessary and for God, we must be ready for anything."

The video also showed images of three Westerners -- a Spanish man and woman and an Italian woman - who were kidnapped late in October in a camp for Sahrawi refugees near Tindouf in southern Algeria.

That kidnapping was claimed by Kheirou's Movement for Unity and Justice in West Africa, which then emerged as a breakaway group from Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which originated in Algeria and now has bases in northern Mali.

The last part of the video was concerned with the ideology of the group and its ambitions, particularly "to impose sharia (Islamic law) across the whole of west Africa." Young black fighters were shown calling for "pure and tough" Islam.

Mauritania last week issued an international arrest warrant against Kheirou, also known as Abou Qumqum. The mandate also targetted three other Mauritanians, including Moustapha Ould Limam Chafi, an influential man in west Africa who has notably negotiated the release of Western hostages by AQIM.

All four men are accused of being "influential members" of AQIM, of financing terrorism and of supporting terrorist groups in the Sahel strip of northwest African nations on the southern edge of the Sahara.

This zone is difficult to patrol and monitor and AQIM has carried out many attacks on troops, kidnappings of Westerners and traffic of various kinds, including drugs.

Twelve Europeans, including six French nationals, are currently held hostage in the Sahel.

 

Turkey sends more tanks into Syria to bolster military offensive

Tunisia swears in new premier after approval from parliament

Turkey arrests former top diplomats over failed coup

Yemen shelling kills three-year-old boy in Saudi border region

In Egypt, ecstatic pilgrims leave to perform hajj

Israeli troops shoot dead Palestinian in occupied West Bank

11 Turkish police officers killed in Cizre bomb attack claimed by PKK

French court suspends burkini ban

Tears as evacuation starts in Syria's Daraya

Turkey PM denies Syria operation singling out Kurds

Kerry, Lavrov meet for talks on Syria

Tunisia parliament to vote on cabinet proposal

Kuwait arrests govt employee promoting IS online

Turkey shells Kurdish fighters in Syria after warning

Oil prices fall on Saudi doubt on output cut

Jeddah meeting bears no fruit on Yemen conflict

Kerry in Saudi for talks on regional conflicts

UN Syria envoy expects 'impact' from Kerry-Lavrov meeting

Iraq parliament votes to impeach defense minister

Russia says will cooperate in Syria chemical attacks probe

Iraq forces take key town south of Mosul

Hamas to leave name off ballot in Palestinian elections

Iranian navy in 'unsafe' intercept of US destroyer

Three wounded in PKK attack on Turkey opposition chief's convoy

Erdogan to inaugurate Istanbul's third Bosphorus bridge

China to train Syrian troops

Turkey reinforces ground forces across border into Syria

Turkey says 'every right' to intervene if Kurds fail to withdraw

UN rights chief urges international probe of Yemen violations

Tunisia unity government to remain unchanged

Raped teen who took own life finally gets justice in Morocco

Syria rebels backed by Turkey tanks 'seize' Jarabulus

Libya's presidential council to present new cabinet

Syria regime, Kurds blast Turkish incursion

Biden: Washington told Kurds not to cross Euphrates

Israeli court shuns plea to unchain Palestinian hunger striker

Saudi police foil mosque suicide bombing

Kerry to meet Russia's Lavrov in Geneva on Friday

Kurdish forces in Syria prime target for Turkey

Drone strike kills 2 Qaeda suspects in Yemen

Iran yet to decide on OPEC limits

Iraq forces advance south of Mosul

Muslim women say swimsuit uproar is 'absurd'

Gaza animals leave 'world's worst' zoo

Hasakeh: key flashpoint for Syria regime, Kurds